Newfoundland and Labrador
St. Johns
St. Johns

Newfoundland (i/ˈnjuːfən(d)lænd/; French: Terre-Neuve), is a large Canadian island off the east coast of the North American mainland, and the most populous part of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The province's official name was also "Newfoundland" until 2001, when its name was changed to "Newfoundland and Labrador" (the postal abbreviation was later changed from NF to NL).

The island of Newfoundland (originally called Terra Nova, from "New Land" in Latin) was visited by the Icelandic Viking Leif Eriksson in the 11th century, who called the new land "Vinland". The next European visitors to Newfoundland were Portuguese, Spanish, French and English migratory fishermen. The island was visited by the Italian John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto), working under contract to King Henry VII of England on his expedition from Bristol in 1497. In 1501, Portuguese explorers Gaspar Corte-Real and his brother Miguel Corte-Real charted part of the coast of Newfoundland in a failed attempt to find the Northwest Passage.

Cabot's landing has been treated by the British as the founding of the British Empire. On August 5, 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed Newfoundland as England's first overseas colony under Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I of England, thus officially establishing a fore-runner to the much later British Empire. Newfoundland is considered Britain's oldest colony. According to 2006 official Census Canada statistics, 57% of responding Newfoundland and Labradorians claim British or Irish ancestry, with 43.2% claiming at least one English parent, 21.5% at least one Irish parent, and 7% at least one parent of Scottish origin. Additionally 6.1% claimed at least one parent of French ancestry. The island's total population as of the 2006 census was 479,105.

The island of Newfoundland is separated from the Labrador Peninsula by the Strait of Belle Isle and from Cape Breton Island by the Cabot Strait. It blocks the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, creating the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the world's largest estuary. Newfoundland's nearest neighbour is the French overseas community of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.

With an area of 108,860 square kilometres (42,031 sq mi), Newfoundland is the world's 16th-largest island, and Canada's fourth-largest island. The provincial capital, St. John's, is located on the southeastern coast of the island; Cape Spear, just south of the capital, is arguably North America's easternmost point. It is common to consider all directly neighbouring islands such as New World, Twillingate, Fogo and Bell Island to be 'part of Newfoundland' (as distinct from Labrador). By that classification, Newfoundland and its associated small islands have a total area of 111,390 square kilometres (43,008 sq mi).

The indigenous people on the island at the time of European settlement were the Beothuk, who spoke an Amerindian language of the same name. Later immigrants developed a variety of dialects associated with settlement on the island: Newfoundland English, Newfoundland French. In the nineteenth century, it also had a dialect of Irish known as Newfoundland Irish. Scottish Gaelic was also spoken on the island during the 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly in the Codroy Valley area, chiefly by settlers from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The Gaelic names reflected the association with fishing: in Scottish Gaelic, it was called Eilean a' Trosg, or literally, "Island of the Cod". Similarly, the Irish Gaelic name Talamh an Éisc means "Land of the Fish". Newfoundland is the only place in the world outside of Ireland to have an original name in Irish Gaelic.

European contact and settlement

Newfoundland is the site of the only authenticated Norse (mostly Greenlandic Icelanders) settlement in North America. It was discovered by Norwegian explorer Dr. Helge Ingstad and his wife, archaeologist Dr. Anne Stine Ingstad, at L'Anse aux Meadows in 1960. The site of multi-year archaeological digs in the 1960s and 1970s; the settlement dating to more than 500 years before John Cabot, contains the earliest known European structures in North America. Designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, it is believed to be the Vinland settlement of explorer Leif Eiriksson. (The Icelandic Skálholt Vinland Map of 1570 refers to the area as "Promontorium Winlandiæ" and correctly shows it on a 51°N parallel with Bristol, England). The Norse stayed for a relatively short period of time, believed to be between 999 and 1001 AD.

The French name for the island is Terre Neuve. The name "Newfoundland"' is one of the oldest European place names in Canada in continuous geographical and cartographical use, dating from a 1502 letter. It was stated in the following 1628 poem:

The European immigrants, mostly English, Scots, Irish and French, built a society in the New World unlike the ones they had left, and different from the ones other immigrants would build on the North American mainland. As a fish-exporting society, Newfoundland was in contact with many places around the Atlantic rim. But its geographic location and political distinctiveness isolated it from its closest neighbours, Canada and the United States. Internally, most of its population was spread widely around a rugged coastline in small outport settlements. Many were distant from larger centres of population and isolated for long periods by winter ice or bad weather. These conditions had an effect on the cultures of the immigrants. They generated new ways of thinking and acting. Newfoundland and Labrador developed a wide variety of distinctive customs, beliefs, stories, songs, and dialects.

Newfoundland and Labrador is the youngest province in Canada. Newfoundland was organized as a colony in 1825, was self-governing from 1855–1934, and held dominion status from 1907–1949 (see Dominion of Newfoundland). In late 1948, the population of the two colonies voted 52.3% to 47.7% in favour of joining Canada as provinces. Opposition was concentrated among residents of the capital St. John's, and on the Avalon Peninsula. Newfoundland joined Canada on March 31, 1949. Union with Canada has done little to reduce Newfoundlanders' self-image as a unique group. In 2003, 72% of residents responding identified first as Newfoundlanders, secondarily as Canadians. Separatist sentiment is low, though, less than 12% in the same 2003 study.

The referendum campaign was bitterly fought and interests in both Canada and Britain favoured and supported confederation with Canada. Jack Pickersgill, a western Canadian native and politician worked with the confederation camp during the campaign. The Catholic Church, while a minority, lobbied for continued independence. Canada offered financial incentives, including a "baby bonus" for each child in a family. The Confederates were led by the charismatic Joseph Smallwood, a former radio broadcaster, who had developed socialist political inclinations while working for a socialist newspaper in New York City. His policies as premier were closer to liberalism than socialism.

Following confederation, Smallwood led Newfoundland for decades as the elected premier. He was said to have a "cult of personality" amongst his many supporters. Some residents featured photographs of "Joey" in their living rooms in a place of prominence.

On March 31, 1949, Newfoundland became a province of Canada but retained the Union Jack in legislature, still designating it as the "national" flag. This was later reaffirmed by the Revised Statutes Act of 1952, and the Union Jack remained the official flag of Newfoundland until 1980, when it was replaced by the current provincial flag.

Parks

Newfoundland has the most Dorset culture archeological sites. As one of the first places in the New World where Europeans settled, Newfoundland has a rich history of European colonization. St. John's is considered to be the oldest city in Canada and the oldest continuously settled location in English-speaking North America. The St. John's census metropolitan area also includes 12 suburban communities, the largest of which are the city of Mount Pearl and the towns of Conception Bay South and Paradise. The island of Newfoundland has numerous provincial parks such as Barachois Pond Provincial Park, considered to be a model forest, as well as two national parks.
-Gros Morne National Park is located on the west coast and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987 due to its complex geology and remarkable scenery. It is the largest national park in Atlantic Canada at 1,805 km2 (697 sq mi) and popular tourist destination.
-Terra Nova National Park, on the island's east side, preserves the rugged geography of the Bonavista Bay region. It allows visitors to explore the historic interplay of land, sea and man.
-L'Anse aux Meadows is an archaeological site located near the northernmost tip of the island (Cape Norman). It is the only known site of a Norse village in North America outside of Greenland, and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is the only widely accepted site of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact. It has associations with the attempted colony of Vinland established by Leif Ericson around 1003.

Tourism

The island has many eco-tourism opportunities, ranging from sea kayaking, camping, fishing and hunting, to hiking. The International Appalachian Trail (IAT) is being extended along the island's mountainous west coast. On the east coast, the East Coast Trail extends through the Avalon Peninsula for 220 km (140 mi), beginning near Fort Amherst in St. John's and ending in Cappahayden, with an additional 320 km (200 mi) of trail under construction.

The Marble Mountain Ski Resort near Corner Brook is a major attraction in the winter for skiers in eastern Canada.

Cultural attractions include the provincial university, Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, and Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook, along with the College of the North Atlantic in Stephenville and other communities.

Bonavista, Placentia and Ferryland are all historic locations for various early European settlement or discovery activities. Tilting Harbour on Fogo Island is a Provincial Heritage District, as well as a National Cultural Landscape District of Canada. This is one of only two national historic sites in Canada so recognized for their Irish heritage.

Entertainment opportunities abound in the island's three cities and numerous towns, particularly during summer festivals. For nightlife, George Street, located in downtown St. John's, is closed to traffic 20 hours per day, and is widely understood to have the most pubs per square foot of any street in North America. The Mile One Stadium in St. John's is the venue for large sporting and concert events in the province.

In March, the annual seal hunt (of the harp seal) takes place.

Demography

Largest Municipalities (2006 population)


1. St. John's (100,646)
2. Mount Pearl (24,671)
3. Conception Bay South (21,966)
4. Corner Brook (20,083)
5. Grand Falls-Windsor (13,558)
6. Paradise (12,584)
7. Gander (9,951)
8. Stephenville (6,588)
9. Portugal Cove – St. Philip's (6,575)
10. Torbay (6,281)
11. Marystown (5,436)
12. Bay Roberts (5,414)
13. Clarenville (5,274)

Source: Wikipedia